Important chinstrap/mask factors include the following:
- Sizing: Dimensions are key when selecting a CPAP chinstrap. The strap should be long enough to keep the chin closed when secured. It’s important to note that chinstraps are not designed to force the mouth closed, but rather hold the jaw closed when the wearer is sleeping or in a resting position. Ideally, a chinstrap should be worn tightly enough to maintain full jaw closure, but loose enough to open one’s mouth if they need to speak.
- Closure: Most CPAP chinstraps are secured with hook-and-loop closures, although some models may feature buckles instead. The former offers easier adjustment than the latter, in most cases.
- Chin guard: A cushioned chin guard, typically three to five inches in length and thicker than the straps, is positioned beneath the chin for added comfort and support. In some cases, the chin guard matches the thickness of the straps.
- Hair and Facial Hair: Hair may be a concern for some wearers, particularly females with long hair, as the straps can catch on loose strands around the edge of the face. Wearers with long hair may be able to prevent painful catching and tangling by pinning back their hair in areas where it comes into contact with the straps. Facial hair is not as susceptible to tangling, but men with longer beards should take their beard dimensions into account when selecting a CPAP chinstrap based on size.
- Cleaning: Most CPAP chinstraps should never be machine washed, but some may be cleaned this way. To clean a non-machine-washable CPAP chinstrap, simply scrub with mild shampoo or mild soap. Avoid using bleach or antibacterial soaps. After cleaning, allow the chinstrap to air dry. Whether or not they are machine washable, chinstraps require regular cleaning in order to maintain hygiene and preserve the product’s lifespan.
The best CPAP chinstraps will help maintain proper CPAP/BiPAP air pressure and prevent dry mouth symptoms. They can also help minimize the chronic snoring associated with sleep apnea, since people who sleep with their mouths open are more likely to snore.
Chinstraps are also a convenient, low-cost workaround for individuals who cannot afford a CPAP full face mask; these masks often cost between $100 and $150. Additionally, a chinstrap is useful for people who are unable to train themselves to sleep with their mouths closed, which can be a difficult undertaking.
Please note that, unlike CPAP machines and masks, CPAP chinstraps do not require a doctor’s prescription to purchase.
A CPAP Chinstrap is suitable for you if…
- You have trouble sleeping with your mouth closed, but would rather not invest in a full-face CPAP mask
- You prefer nasal CPAP masks, but you have not been able to train yourself to sleep with your mouth closed
- You primarily sleep on your back
- You wear glasses
A CPAP Chinstrap may not be suitable for you if…
- You have long hair and/or thick facial hair
- You find head straps too invasive, or you experience excessive pressure with elastic straps
- You already use a full-face CPAP mask
- You have minimal difficulty sleeping with your mouth closed, even while undergoing CPAP therapy
Key Considerations for CPAP Chinstrap Shoppers
When shopping for a new CPAP chinstrap and comparing different brands and models, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- What is your shopping budget? The majority of CPAP chinstraps sold today are available for less than $40, but budget-minded shoppers can usually find models for $20 or less.
- What are your facial measurements? Most CPAP chinstraps are adjustable with one-size-fits-all designs for users with different facial structures, but those with exceptionally small or large chins and/or jawlines may require custom models that accommodate their relatively uncommon dimensions.
- Do you have long hair and/or facial hair? This may not affect your chinstrap choice, but extra measures (such as pinning back hair) may be needed to ensure a secure fit.
- Have you tested out the chinstrap? If possible, try on several models before making a purchase, as some models are likely to be less comfortable than others.
- How is the chinstrap secured? Hook-and-loop closures provide a more customized fit, whereas models with buckle closures are more limited. Most chinstraps sold today feature the former. Some models forgo closures completely and utilize elastic straps, but these may become misshapen after continuous use.
- How wide is the chin guard? Generally, the wider the chin guard is, the more comfortable the strap will feel. However, testing out different models is the best way to ensure the chinstrap you choose will provide sufficient cushioning around the chin.
- How wide are the straps? Some wearers prefer thinner straps that cover less area along the jawline and cheeks, while others are more comfortable with thicker straps that cover the entire cheek and have a similar feel to medical gauze.
- How many straps are included? All CPAP chinstraps feature a ‘wide strap’ that travels beneath the chin and along both sides of the face. Some also feature a ‘stability strap’ (also known as a ‘halo strap’) that wraps around the back of the head for added support. In lieu of a stability/halo strap, some models have caps that fit around the circumference of the wearer’s head, and can be worn under different types of headgear; these are usually designed for wearers with specific head sizes.
- What materials are used to make the chinstrap? Chinstraps are typically made from lightweight, breathable materials like nylon, neoprene, and/or polyester. This consideration comes down to personal preference, as well as any applicable allergies.
- Can you afford a CPAP full face mask? Although some models cost up to $150, full face masks are generally considered more effective at keeping your mouth closed during sleeping — and more comfortable — than chinstraps.
Lastly, a shopper’s prescription status is an important factor to consider when choosing a chinstrap. In the next section, we’ll break down some common questions about CPAP, BiPAP, and APAP prescriptions.
CPAP Chinstrap Prescription FAQs
In this section, we’ll answer some common questions about prescription requirements for CPAP chinstraps.
Is insurance required to purchase a CPAP chinstrap?
No. Shoppers do not need a doctor’s prescription to legally purchase a CPAP chinstrap. These products are widely available over the counter.
However, many CPAP, BiPAP, and APAP components require a prescription. These include the airflow generator, humidifier, and any type of breathing mask; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes these products as Class II medical devices and regulates how and when they are sold. Merchants who sell Class II medical devices must receive FDA approval to do so; legally, they can only sell these items to buyers with a valid prescription.
A chinstrap on its own may effectively minimize snoring and reduce apnea-related breathing episodes to some degree. However, those who wish to use their chinstrap in tandem with CPAP, BiPAP, or APAP therapy must have a prescription.
How do I get a prescription for FDA-regulated CPAP/BiPAP/APAP equipment?
Shoppers must receive a sleep apnea diagnosis before they can obtain a prescription for FDA-regulated CPAP machines, humidifiers, and breathing masks. At least one of the following certified professionals must provide the initial diagnosis:
- Medical physician or physician’s assistant
- Doctor of osteopathy
- Naturopathic physician
- Nurse practitioner
- M.D. psychiatrist
Sellers frequently do not accept prescriptions from other types of physicians. These include chiropractors, optometrists, and psychologists.
The diagnostic procedure varies by patient and physician. The prescribing physician often issues a home sleep test (HST) for patients to use in their bedroom; after the test is complete, the patient sends the results to the physician. Alternatively, the prescribing physician may refer the patient to a sleep specialist; these specialists may also issue an HST, or conduct the more intensive procedure known as the polysomnography sleep test, which records brain waves, eye movements, and other sleeper data.
Polysomnography is the more invasive option, but many HSTs yield inconclusive results. For this reason, many sleep apnea patients complete an HST and at least one round of polysomnography.
What does the prescription need to say?
A prescription that specifically covers a CPAP mask must include the following
- Name, signature, and contact details for the prescribing physician
- The patient’s legal name
- The patient’s specific sleep apnea diagnosis (OSA or CSA), as well as optimal pressure settings
- At least one term (written verbatim) that specifies the patient’s optimal therapy type. These terms include, but are not limited to, the following: ‘CPAP’; ‘BiPAP’ or Bilevel’; ‘APAP’ or AutoPAP’; ‘VPAP’; ‘CPAP mask’; or ‘CPAP supplies.’
For a more in-depth look at these requirements, please visit our CPAP, BiPAP, and APAP Prescriptions guide.
Additional Strategies for People with Sleep Apnea
For some people with sleep apnea, CPAP therapy and its variants do not effectively alleviate apnea-related breathing episodes or snoring symptoms – with or without a chinstrap. Those living with sleep apnea may find relief through other means, including other devices, medical procedures, and lifestyle changes.
Other Devices and Procedures
Mandibular advancement devices (MADs): MADs are anti-snoring mouthpieces designed to fit snugly inside the wearer’s lower jaw (also known as their mandible). The mouthpiece forces the jaw forward, which helps expand the airway and prevent the sleeper from snoring excessively.
Many MADs are ‘boil-and-bite’ models; buyers boil them in water at home, then bite into the material to form a permanent impression. Other MAD models require customized fitting; the buyer creates an impression at home, then sends it to the manufacturer. In either case, most MADs are available over-the-counter without a prescription.
Tongue retaining devices (TRDs): TRDs, like MADs, are anti-snoring mouthpieces, but they work a little differently. TRDs use a suction device to pull the tongue forward, away from the throat, which helps the airway expand without obstruction. TRDs generally resemble baby pacifiers; they rarely need custom-fitting, and almost never require a prescription.
Provent: Provent therapy is a newer sleep apnea treatment option; it is FDA-approved. The therapy consists of two small valves that are placed inside each nostril using a non-toxic, hypoallergenic adhesive. The valves open during inhalation, then close during exhalation; this results in easier breathing without pressurized air. Provent therapy requires a prescription.
Oral surgery: In sleep apnea cases with severe symptoms, oral surgery may be the most suitable option. Several types of oral surgery can help alleviate apnea-related breathing episodes and heavy snoring.
These include uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), during which the uvula is removed to reinforce the soft palate; genioglossus advancement (GGA), which stretches the tongue’s tendons to permanently prevent airway blockage; and maxillomandibular advancement (MMA), which realigns the angle of the upper and lower jaw, along with the soft palate.
Oral surgery can be very expensive, and should only be considered if other, less invasive measures prove unsuccessful.
Optimized Sleep Settings
Consider side sleeping: Side sleeping is considered the best sleep position for people with sleep apnea. The sleeper’s tongue falls away from the throat, making it less likely to block the airway, and this allows the esophagus to expand properly.
Back sleeping, on the other hand, is considered the worst position for sleep apnea; many back sleepers use a pillow to elevate their heads, and this can cause the tongue to block the airway. Stomach sleeping may also be suitable for people with sleep apnea. However, most sleep experts discourage people from stomach sleeping because it is associated with more neck and shoulder pain than the other positions.
Buy an adjustable bed: Although adjustable beds tend to be expensive, they can be a solid investment for heavy snorers and other sleepers with apnea-related issues.
Adjustable beds are designed to elevate at the head; some also elevate at the foot. Internal motors allow owners to adjust the elevation angle to different settings; those who experience severe snoring may find the highest angles are more suitable. Many adjustable beds are also split down the middle for couples with different angling preferences.
Some adjustable beds are available for about $1,000 in a Queen size, but most models cost at least $2,000 in the same size. For more information about these products, check out our Adjustable Bed Buying Guide.
Find the right pillow loft: A pillow’s loft, or thickness, has a significant impact on sleep apnea symptoms and sleep health in general. Pillows that are excessively thick or excessively thin can cause the tongue to fall back into the throat. Pillows are also closely tied to neck and shoulder pain, as well as spinal alignment for side sleepers.
Pillow loft is divided into three general categories: low loft (thinner than 3″); medium loft (3″ to 5″); and high loft (thicker than 5″). The best loft for a given sleeper depends on his or her preferred position and mattress firmness, as well as physiological factors like head size, shoulder width, and body weight.
The table below lists optimal loft settings based on this criteria. However, every sleeper has different preferences and needs; they may find their ideal loft falls outside these parameters. Keep in mind these findings are subjective; the best way to find the right loft is to test out pillows with different thickness measurements.